The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Whataboutism, Justice And What To Do When We’re As Guilty As Russia

So, these days, whenever one points out that America, Britain and various other nations have committed the exact same fundamental war crime as Russia: invading another country which has not attacked you first, the rejoinder is always “whataboutism.” The idea is that just because we did something bad doesn’t mean we shouldn’t punish others for doing the same thing, even though we were never punished.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this over the last few weeks. It’s a version of “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

I disagree that one should punish someone else for doing what we did ourselves that we weren’t punished for. It’s not justice, it’s wrong, and it destroys all respect for law and for those who insist “me and my friends can destroy whoever we want, but you can’t, because you aren’t one of us.”

At a fundamental level this is one reason so many Chinese and Indians support Russia, not the Ukraine or the West. (The other is that they feel NATO pushed Russia into a corner. You may disagree but I see this over and over again.)

Back in 2017 there was a narrative that Russia interfered in the US election and that it was the worstest thing ever, a great crime and an outrage. Let us assume that Russia did try to influence the election (I sure would, if I were them.)

Americans have interfered in other countries elections many times, on top of launching multiple coups. So when Americans squeal about Russian election interference, I just laugh. Heck, back in 96 the US bragged about helping get Yeltsin elected. You can see a page from the Time article about the interference.

So I don’t care if Russia interfered.

If, however, Americans suddenly realized “Oh my God! Foreign election interference is terrible and we now understand that it shouldn’t be done”, then the principled response would have been for the US to go to Russia and say, “look, we’ve both done it and we both did the wrong thing. Let’s make a pact that neither of us will interfere in foreign elections ever again.”

Now, no one can take Western government mewling about how evil Russia is seriously who has a memory and isn’t a hypocrite. Some individual Westerners, yes: those who opposed Iraq, for example. But governments who went into Iraq or Libya or engaged in various other wars? Grow up.

When America goes on and on about this all that China and India and so do is roll their eyes. They know Western objections aren’t because it’s illegal or unjust or evil, it’s just about power. Nor is it about “territorial integrity.”

So what would we say and do if we were sincere?

We are sanctioning Russia for its attack on Ukraine. At the same time we now realize that our attacks on Iraq and Libya were also unjustified war crimes. We pledge 10 trillion dollars in reparations to Iraq and 5 trillion in reparations to Libya over the next 10 years. We will remove all sanctions from Afghanistan so that their population no longer starves and we will no longer supply Saudi Arabia with weapons, munitions or military aid until it stops its war on Yemen.

Putin is a war criminal, but so are many US politicians. We will immediately start war crimes trials against George W. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton among many others for their roles in Iraq and Libya. We understand that Tony Blair and other responsible UK politicians will also be tried for their participation and we urge other countries involved in Iraq and Libya to do the same.

We call for Russia to remove Putin from power, and try him for his war crime as well. All sanctions will be removed immediately if Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine.

We are sorry that we had to see this war crime committed against Ukraine before we recognized how heinous it was, and promise we will never again attack a country which has not attacked us or a country we are allied to.

Now, of course, the idea that the American government would ever say something like this is beyond ludicrous, but that’s the point.

The West isn’t sanctioning Russia because they are bad, and no one is required to help the West sanction Russia for moral reasons because what we’re doing has nothing to do with morality or justice. If it did, we would either have acted differently in the not very distance past and present (Yemen, Somalia is also being bombed, Afghans are starving) or we would now apologize and hold ourselves responsible for our past actions.

Sanctions and aid for Ukraine, from governments in the West have nothing to do with morality, and everything to do with power and interest.

Still, it’s interesting to think about how we would act if our societies were run by anyone ethical.



Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 20, 2022


Clarity on Putin’s Aims


  1. Feral Finster

    Even if the Russian attack on Ukraine were as bad as the Ukrainians would have it, even if it were as bad as Team D stalwarts claim, it would still be but a pimple on the ass of the War on Iraq alone.

    It’s like the Mafia complaining about some petty shoplifting.

  2. NR

    The issue with whataboutism comes when people excuse evil actions by saying “well, what about (insert other evil action here)?” I know you are not doing this, Ian, but Feral Finster just did it above and I’ve seen others do it in other places. Just because someone did something bad in the past does not make it okay for others to do bad things today.

    Your post does get to a larger point which is absolutely true, though, and that is that when you do bad things, you compromise your moral authority to speak and take action against others doing bad things in the future. This is one of the (many) ways that evil begets more evil.

  3. someofparts

    To get around the insufferable sanctimony of the western media, I’ve been watching news from India instead. It has biases too, but is still more balanced than the nauseating posing from our own press.

    It feels like people will start telling American the truth to it’s face more and more as it’s power to hurt them wanes.

    Also, as overpowering as western propaganda is, it turns out that Russia has not even bothered to engage with it. Instead, they are directing their information to Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

    I’ve been thinking that the US is like Russia’s crazy ex-girlfriend and Ukraine is not an invasion but is, instead, a restraining order. When the Russians let her move in in the 1990s, she trashed the place. After they kicked her out and started getting the house back in order, they still had a bit of indulgent regard for her. But instead of being grateful, she has tried to get their friends to turn against them, has tried to get their customers to stop doing business with them, and has even provided weapons to local gangsters and urged them to trash the neighborhood. So Russia has finally said enough is enough and now they are doing the one thing the psychotic ex-girlfriend can’t understand – they are turning their back on her and building a good new life for themselves in the east where she can’t reach them.

  4. Z

    As of the past weekend, in 24 days of conflict, Russia has flown some 1,400 strike sorties and delivered almost 1,000 missiles (by contrast, the United States flew more sorties and delivered more weapons in the first day of the 2003 Iraq war). The vast majority of the airstrikes are over the battlefield, with Russian aircraft providing “close air support” to ground forces. The remainder—less than 20 percent, according to U.S. experts—has been aimed at military airfields, barracks and supporting depots.

    In fact, there has been no methodical bombing campaign to achieve any systemic outcome of a strategic nature. Air and missile strikes, which initially seemed to tell one story, have almost exclusively been in direct support of ground forces.

    “Think of the Russian Air force as flying artillery,” says the retired senior U.S. Air Force officer, who communicated with Newsweek via email. “It’s not an independent arm. It has undertaken no strategic air campaign as American observers might be used to from the last 30 years of American conflict.”

    “I know that the news keeps repeating that Putin is targeting civilians, but there is no evidence that Russia is intentionally doing so,” says the DIA analyst. “In fact, I’d say that Russian could be killing thousands more civilians if it wanted to.”


  5. Z


    Just because someone did something bad in the past does not make it okay for others to do bad things today.

    It’s not only actions that the U.S. have done in the past, it is also the actions that they are doing right now that are currently leading to death and damage to Palestinians, Afghanis, Yemenis, Syrians, etc. that one could reasonably say exceed anything that the Russians have done in the Ukraine.

    I think of it more as rank hypocrisy than what-aboutism.


  6. Z

    Even in this situation, which is the more reasonable actor:

    (a) Russia which said that they would stop the war if Ukraine agrees to their set of demands that would leave Ukraine intact for the most part and their millions of citizens to mostly go back to their normal life
    (b) the U.S. which is financially supporting Ukraine’s war effort, clearly does not want the conflict to end even though it is very unlikely Ukraine will win, is quite willing … make that eager … to drag the Ukrainian people through a guerilla war, and is leading sanctions on Russia which damage not only Russia, but the rest of the world?

    This conflict might be called “Putin’s war”, but the fact of the matter is that the price increases in food and fuel that will hit many innocent countries hard and probably lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people suffering and dying are primarily due to Biden’s and Blinken’s sanctions.


  7. Astrid


    I agree with Z, even without going into the past or great power geopolitics, the US is currently singlehandedly responsible for the deaths of innocents in Afghanistan that are orders of magnitude greater than civilian casualties in Ukraine so far. And supporting continued genocide by is Saudi and Israeli allies. So nevermind whataboutism of past actions, how about just stopping those evil actions now, if America actually cares about innocent women and children?

    I’m sure you’re “appalled”, but I am guessing never appalled enough to stop voting blue because the other side are Nazis.

    Yet here we are, going from being afraid of Nazis to being afraid for Nazis, without even a break in between.

  8. Dan Lynch

    Re: invading another country which has not attacked you first

    The coup government of Ukraine had been attacking & invading Donbass since 2014. Donbass had an ethical right to counter-attack in self-defense, and an ethical right to ask Russia for assistance in the counter-attack (what lawyers call “collective” self-defense).

    There is no comparison to the U.S. invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan because Iraq & Afghanistan never attacked the U.S. first, nor was the U.S. invited to participate in a legal collective self-defense operation against Iraq or Afghanistan.

    A lot of people falsely assume is illegal to invade a country. It is illegal to start a war, but if the other guy starts a war, it is legal to counter-attack in self-defense. The counter-attack need not stop at the border — during WWII, the Allied invasion did not stop at the border of Germany, and during the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant did not stop at the Mason-Dixon line. If the aggressor is unwilling to surrender, the defender has a right to destroy the aggressor’s military and government.

    That does not necessarily mean that the decision to counter-attack Ukraine was wise. Horrible things happen in every war, and It remains to be seen whether the war will bring about a lasting peace. But the legality seems clear to me.

  9. Soredemos

    In reality Russia is conducting a very restrained campaign, to the point that they’re actively endangering their military personnel in exchange for fewer civilian casualties. The UN puts the total civilian dead at less than 1,000, and even if the real number is higher than that (and doubtless it is), it still compares very favorably with how the US conducts its wars. We killed as many as 40,000 civilians when we helped take back Mosul from ISIS, as a particularly extreme example. America can’t seem to grasp that *not* flattening entire cities can be a valid strategy, and not a sign of failure.

    And even if you except the worst possible interpretation of events, that Russia is deliberately blowing up schools and hospitals it knows have civilians in them, is barraging its own evacuation corridors, etc, that’s still not as bad as the US helping to starve Afghanistan and Yemen. We’ve starved 13,000 Afghani kids to death in the last three months for no reason.

  10. bruce wilder

    I read the New York Times and its determined journamalism is teaching me a lot about the role of a kind of determined righteousness in driving the narrative as it were.

    The NYT never admits that Russia has its reasons, its interests. It does not simply judge such reasons as inadequate moral justification for terrible war — there is no such moral judgment in the balance, because there is no weighing of one against the other. Putin’s claims are scarcely reported in barest outline, before in the reporting, they are declared wholly and flatly false. Reading only the NYT, a reader would be puzzled by Russia’s actions, blind to its grievances.

    The battle around the city of Mariupol has been reported with no mention that I have seen of the Azov Battalion garrisoning the city. The struggle to negotiate humanitarian cooridors is related with no notice of the goals and antagonism of either side.

    I personally regard Putin’s invasion as both morally reprehensible and policy mistake of the first order. I doubt that I know enough for that view and judgment to have any transactional value here, so I will not bore any one with the details of my reasoning. But, here is the thing: whether I understood the reasons of the Russians well or not, I would suppose they have them and I would not dismiss them flatly as “false”.

    Putin says “nazis”. OK, I want to know what objevtive facts he is referring to. Not reasoning along the lines of “Zelensky is a Russian-speaking Jew, there could not possibly be any actual nazis”. Putin says “genocide” — fully expecting this to be an exaggeration — charges of “genocide” typically are in my experience extreme hyperbole, but never wholly without factual referents. So, NYT, what are those factual referents? “False” is the only assertion amidst all the news thats fit to print.

    It is a very disturbing POV and my criticism is aimed at the POV, not the NYT, which merely provides a text for examination. I have seen the righteous POV from many who have knowledge, but apparently prefer not to mobilize it.

    Complexity and moral ambiguity and all that messiness have their own hazards — I know that. But, this is righteous attitude of indignation that defends itself from realism about the inevitability of conflict and indeed any knowledge with counter charges of “whataboutism” (a playground insult basically) is not just hypocritical. It seems to be wanton in its use of power wanting to wipe out all the claims of its chosen antagonist. “Cancel culture” is well-named.

  11. Z

    Our rulers are heading down a more treacherous path than they seem to have the capacity, aka lack of arrogance, to realize. They’re supremely confident that they can sell suffering to billions of people, across many countries, in unison as being fully on account of “Putin’s War” when it’s their sanctions that are part of it and very arguably the larger factor in it. And they didn’t have to sanction Russia.

    They must believe that they can also stuff their role, which included CIA involvement, in the 2014 Maidan coup down into a rabbit hole like it never happened before and believe that the world will ignore, or be ignorant of, all the other suffering they’re forcing on people in other countries via military actions, foreign aid, weapons funding, sanctions, etc.. The U.S.’s hypocrisy is on full, ugly display and access to the proof behind it all is only a twitter thread or a dozen keystrokes and a few clicks away. And there is nothing to douse the flames of anti-U.S. sentiment in foreign countries except the force of their governments.

    Then you consider the top five Biden people heading this dicey endeavor: Biden, Harris, and the Zionist Trio in the State Department, all three of whom were very likely involved in and have invested at least time and energy, and maybe money as well, into the 2014 Maidan coup. Those three aren’t folding, they’re full bore forward promoting the righteousness of the cause when they ought to also be counter-weighing the damage that pissing off so many countries at once can do.

    Our rulers are tossing the supreme power of the dollar into the pot and hoping to bully and bluff their way through the bad hand that they’ve dealt themselves. One of their follies is being so certain that the longer the hand plays out the more it’s in their favor.


  12. dealwithit

    @NR His comment is not “whatboutism”, it’s about double standards. It is an objective fact to say that the Iraq War was a far greater atrocity than the Russian invasion both on merit and suffering.

  13. Astrid

    When this started, I said that I didn’t think the Chinese would act against Taiwan (without extreme provocations). Now I’m not so sure. If the Chinese gets hold of a dozen kinzhal missiles, they could credibly tell them US to leave the Taiwan Strait and that any actions against Chinese coastal cities will be responded to with extreme prejudice to Taiwanese bunkers. They could then easily blockade Taiwan and starve them out.

    I didn’t think the Chinese would act because of their foreign currency reserve (though I’d like to see how much of that has been leveraged to Belt and Road initiatives and fallout to non-Chinese financiers and backers) and their export trade to US and EU. If the US and EU voluntarily gives away that leverage through sanctions and essentially currency default to China, then we’re in another world. Then it comes down to the global South choosing Eurasia or the Western “world”.

    Another hopeful sign for the Chinese is if they can capitalize on the situation and make a durable peace with India. The Himalayas are essential to both countries for fresh water, but they are better off figuring out a workable solution than see it as a zero sum game.

    China as a whole probably prefers not to divorce itself from the west yet, but Xi and his Beijing-centric brain trust (though Shanghai’s Fudan university seems to contribute significantly to this hawkish faction) may welcome it as an inevitable break with the increasingly belligerent West. My well off Chinese friends will miss their LV handbags and European vacations, but they’re not traveling in Europe anyways due to COVID-19. And once the anti-Chinese responses ramps up in the West + JP/ROK, they won’t want to.

  14. bruce wilder

    As Ian says and Z reiterates, “What about . . . ?” is exposing not moral hypocrisy but the raw use of power disguised with the vocabulary of righteousness and acting with great arrogance and irresponsibility for consequences.

  15. Ché Pasa

    Huh. “Whataboutism.”

    While Russia certainly has its reasons for what’s going on, its reasons don’t justify it.

    There is no question whatever that what the USandNato have been doing for decade in prosecuting one war of aggression after another against numerous countries directly and indirectly causing the deaths and displacements of many, many millions of innocents and the “flattening” of city after city with neither remorse or in some respects even acknowledgement has been a monstrous injustice.

    It doesn’t justify a Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

    On the other hand, Russia and Ukraine are so intimately interlinked, there is no way, ultimately, to disentangle them. The efforts of the USandNato to do so for many years now will come to naught. Even some of the most belligerent observers are beginning to publicly acknowledge that or at least hinting at it. The “nazi” homelands in Ukraine are in the west, in the bits that were part of Austria and Poland. What the nazis want is conquest of the whole of the previous Ukrainian SSR as if it were their due and they seek the eventual destruction of the Russian Federation for — I assume — the same reasons that Nazi Germany sought that same goal. And what were those reasons again?

    Russia says “Nyet.” Gee, whodathunk, right?

    But… this genuine dispute should not require war for resolution.

    That the Ukraine together with the USandNato goaded Russia into launching this invasion is self-evident, but the notion that “Biden started this war” is false. The Kremlin started this war.

    Nevertheless, Ukraine has been engaged in violent hostilities against separatists in Donbas since 2014, and those hostilities have rather gleefully utilized the services of nazi militias that were ultimately integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces and “security services.” They have a demonstrated history of brutality, murder, and let’s say “genocidal intent.” Russians and the Russian language are their targets, and they appear eager to cleanse Ukraine of the Russian taint by any means necessary.

    Of course none of this history — or really much of any other history — enters into the current propaganda in the West about what’s going on. There’s plenty of fantasy, plenty of denial, plenty of manufactured hatred and hero-worship. Looked at objectively, it’s dreadful and bizarre and universal within the governments of the USandNato. Believed and repeated without question.


    Note to Bruce: much of the propaganda video circulating in the West proudly displays the Azov Battalion logo. Its Nazi history as well as Bandera’s and many other rightist organizations and militias in Ukraine — and the many genocidal massacres that occurred during the German occupation of Ukraine with the participation of Ukrainian Nazis — are well known. None of it is mysterious and it was once routinely reported in the West. It’s all been airbrushed, elided over, and/or dismissed as unimportant since last year because Zelensky is Jewish. More to the point, these Nazis are useful in the conflict with Russia, just as the Soviet armed forces were useful in the conflict with Nazi Germany.

    Again, though, why?

  16. Willy

    I’m old enough to remember when war was all huh, yeah, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Uh huh. Not to mention that everybody knew that as war machines kept turning, it’d be death and hatred to mankind poisoning our brainwashed minds. Oh lord yeah.

    Then along came Reagan, Clinton, and the Bush’s with their patriotic wars against those evil minds that plot destruction. The Mission Accomplished jumpsuit sideshow got 80% approval ratings. And now we have colorful Putin rallies against Nazis, scum and traitors. It seems everybody has their bad guys, who the rest of us must now fight.

    There are tons of independently shot videos online of Ukrainian apartment block ruins and young Russians being blown up in their rolling coffins. Not to mention, all the apologists, disinformation specialists, and armchair politicians desperately trying to persuade anybody about which side is the evil one.

    Generational forgetfulness, I guess. The more people change, the more they go back to being what they’re naturally wired to be, after a generation or so. That’s another one for the socioeconomic theory variable box.

    I’m a fan of the teachable moment. I’d hope that thousands of videos of millions of Ukrainian refugees might be a good way to persuade the most diehard of the patriotic warfare crowd in America, that all war is bad. Even our wars. Uh huh. But I know how human nature works.

  17. someofparts

    Well, hold on to your hats, here we go –

    That’s right boys and girls, if you want those oh-so-essential Russian resources, you will be paying for them in rubles.

    And just for color commentary, check out this pithy little analysis –

    All of this has reminded me that Karl Rove once bragged that he and his pals created reality while the rest of us just studied the realities they conjured up. Well, KKK Rove is about to get a master class in how the serious adults in the room create realities. Too bad the rest of us are going to pay for his hubris, with special apologies to our Canadian neighbors.

  18. Z

    Putin says ‘unfriendly’ countries must now pay for Russian natural gas in rubles


  19. Z

    What’s to stop flames of anti-U.S. protests in foreign countries from potentially creating a global wildfire of them? Nothing but their own governments because there aren’t any counter to them amongst their people that will dampen them so it will just become hotter and hotter until either their governments relent on the sanctions or the protests combust into something much larger.


  20. Lex

    I’ve reached a similar conclusion to Ian’s. Until the US stands up and says “we made terrible mistakes and we’ll make amends for them” (and actually does so), it’s not whataboutism. The phrase is a defense mechanism of the west to cover its unwillingness to be honest with itself and the world.

    To the poster(s) who question “denazification”, I started this thinking that it was internal propaganda. Though obviously third generation Nazis were put into positions of power and the paramilitaries were open about their ideology, I assumed some degree of exaggeration. I’ve spent most of the conflict on Slavic social media. If anything, Russia undersold the issue.

    For example, Druzenko who ordered his medics to castrate Russian POWs isn’t just some guy. He’s a Fulbright-Kennan scholar at the Wilson Institute. He spent 2019-20 at Indiana University, a stint at Max Planck, etc. and in 2014-15, he was a cabinet member of the post-Maidan government. “Commissioner of ethno-national policy” These are our Nazis and there’s no way we didn’t know what sort of ideology was being embedded in Ukrainian society. Expect that the horrors of Mariupol will be gruesome and remember, we knew and supported it. In the unoccupied west of Ukraine, it seems that society is descending into madness. Pogroms against Romani we’re hardly uncommon in Ukraine before, but the new Ukrainian social media trend is strapping undesirables to poles and whipping/beating them. The Romani get their faces covered in chemical disinfectant. And I cannot avoid the truth of the matter: we did this on purpose.

  21. StewartM

    After decades of watching war reporting:

    1) When the US bombs a hospital, a school, a housing development, drone-kills people at a wedding, or shoots down a civilian airliner full of innocent passengers, it’s all a terrible yet understandable mistake. Even when we pass out medals and commendations to the crew that shot down the airliner afterwards.

    2) When the “bad guys” do it, it’s a deliberate act of evil, knowingly perpetrated.

    3) Yet we’re the best, our boys and girls in uniform are the most top-notch and praiseworthy of all military organizations in the world, while the bad guys are third-rate if not incompetent.

    4) Despite that, it’s our-top notch military is the somehow the one constantly making mistakes and killing innocents, while the bad guys are able to deliberately to hone in on the innocents and strike them with precision accuracy.

    Double standards, just maybe?

  22. Willy

    And then I have this different take. I try to be a lover not a fighter. Sometimes I fail, in moments of emotional weakness. But when given any amount of time to think I try to choose the former, as long as can manage. But then I remember my junior college housemate.

    He was a musical scholar well familiar with all the antiwar lyrics of the day. A peaceful but lively sort, neither idiot nor fool, he made friends easily. We were once talking about my workplace nemesis, a very large sociopathic asshole. I didn’t know how to manage the guy without fighting him. Housemate told me what a terror he himself would be if he was ever physically challenged, at all of an untrained unathletic 5’7” and 130.

    I came home one Friday night to find him and my other housemate cowering with their girlfriends. Our ex-marine neighbor had gone all piss drunk crazy, looking for somebody to fight. Then came the knock on our door. It was met with pleas telling me to not answer. But I answered.

    After calmly trying to talk Mr. Marine down, he physically challenged and I quickly had him on the ground disabled. He was full of clumsy drunken hubris after all, not really all that large, easy pickings for somebody trained in the fighting arts and fit thanks to a physically demanding pay-for-college job. I could’ve hurt him badly. Instead, I got him up, shook his hand and told him to sleep it off. And he did. Seemed the right thing to do. Plus I wanted him to think twice in case he ever got the urge to try and jump me during another episode. And maybe, to remember the lesson that there’s always a bigger fish. Still, after a few months I caught him staring at me strangely again. And then our party keg went missing. But that’s another story.

    My housemate seemed grateful that night, though he never spoke of it again.

    A few months later we were playing a silly game and housemate blurted out something to harshly ridicule my personality. It was the same thing my sociopathic workplace nemesis had been trying to popularize in his attempt to jump over me in those ranks. I was puzzled. Was housemate trying to challenge my level of assertiveness? Was he having a bad day? We’d been on such good terms. I sucked it up and let it go. Housemate never apologized.

    Today I’m much older and hopefully, wiser. I’m fairly certain my former housemate had been nursing an unconscious grudge against me. He was intelligent with an excellent memory. I’m sure he remembered bragging about his courage only to prove himself a coward later. At some level, my continuous presence reminded him of that humiliation.

    Strange how the human mind works, how we give such minor events so much power over us. And I’m not just talking about him either. Had I been more on the ball I should’ve challenged him. In hindsight, it wouldn’t have hurt our relationship at all since after he transferred to a local university, our relationship quickly faded to nothing.

    Ukrainians are going through things far, far worse than any self-inflicted character humiliations or miffed friendships. I highly doubt that talking nuance to them will pacify them or make them like you. The ones I know want Putin and all his enablers dead. And more than a few Russians too. It’s obvious what Americans need to do, in their own adventures going forward. Ukrainians, I’m not as sure.

  23. Z

    No worries though, the production team of Weekend at Biden’s have dollied their lead stiff onto Air Force One, have him/it safely stowed in the cargo hold, their pharmacological team are currently concocting the “Joe Biden”, the ever-changing combination of drugs they administer to stand him/it up, and they’re bringing their show to Europe. Ought to be big hit …


  24. Feral Finster

    @NR: I didn’t excuse anything.

    Still, let he who is without sin cast the first stone..

    And it is not as if Ukraine is a plucky little democracy, an innocent victim, , either.

  25. someofparts

    To the observations that Soredemos and Z have made I would add this. Covid is still rampaging across the planet and we are the nation who have refused to share our vaccines with the rest of the world. This is not going unnoticed.

    It is one of the things India is remembering as they decide whether to be part of the Quad or move closer to China.

    It is the reason the British confiscated the gold of Venezuela, because that country presumed to use it to buy medicines to fight covid.

    We are showing the world that leaving their reserves with the US is more than unsafe. We are showing them that we will weaponize their own money to hold them hostage to our murderous imperial demands.

  26. Z

    Most of the people in the U.S. government making the most important decisions on the future direction of the U.S. (((and the planet))) likely have ten years left to live, are heavy, decades-long amphetamine users, and get their dopamine pings from monitoring the hourly gains on their stock portfolios.

    Yeah sure, everything should be OK. It’s just a heat wave, it’ll go away.


  27. Librarian Guy

    Well, it’s been a crazy day here where I moved with weird weather, and as I was driving in thick falling snow while it was 33 degrees outside and afraid I couldn’t get home from my trip, I heard my old home town of New Orleans (1982-89) was hit by tornado(es?), & extreme lightning storms, some people dead, after they suffered Katrina, etc. so I guess we’re not safe anywhere? But anyway, the usual good rigorous thinking from Ian, mostly good commentary but I’ll thank someofparts today for the 2 posts that resounded best with me. I think USA as the “crazy ex-girlfriend” is indeed an awfully apt metaphor, & appreciated the links to Consortium News and the US’s “infantilism”. And that is exactly what it is, paired with ridiculous triumphalist arrogance, when this violent, misogynist, settler-colonialist, greed-based, racist spithole is literally coming apart at the seams!! Yet our infantile leaders, High on their Own Supply, issue decrees & with their MSM twit lackeys pull the puppet strings of the arrogant, infantile peons who put them in power, about what the Mighty Empire will do, when the Empire is already sticking one foot in the grave (or more) like the shambling leader Biden. I have no admiration for Putin, obviously, I’m confident he is cut from the same Sociopath cloth as our “leaders”, but I think he is an adult and has some smarts, which nobody in our elites seems to anymore. Naked Capitalism today had a link that Kamala is angry because the subordinates didn’t “Stand to Attention” when the mighty Veep came into the room, and as either Lambert or a commenter noted, this is late-stage Versailles behavior . . . I have heard a couple of times a variant of the “Third Generation Business” paradigm which is improved, being altered to state, The first generation builds a great business/society, the 2nd generation squanders it, and the 3rd generation (altered here) burns it all down to the ground, ending their lives as junkies or basket cases!! Well, there are no more FDRs or even George Kennans in the US ruling class, there aren’t even any McNamaras admitting their failures 3 decades later. It’s the self-blinded leading the born blind. William Burroughs has been vindicated, it’s all going down to dust. It’ll be nice if a few isolated communities can survive but things are not pretty, and NOBODY who wants power has the slightest interest in or idea of how to utilize it in a positive manner. Nor do the putzes who open the door to power for them!! Rome’s gradual fall may look pretty next to the former US Hegemon’s.

  28. Veronica

    I’m not sure we are as guilty. See, e.g., The Black Book of Communism (Courtois) and The Cold War (Gaddis).

    As John Oliver put it, “Look, there is a real tendency, particularly in America, to both-sides this situation. And I’m not saying that there aren’t some areas where that’s warranted, but it’s important to recognize there are also areas where it’s simply not.”

    I think that’s true here too. Russia killed 50+ million of its own people in one ten year period, they accuse the USA of killing the same number worldwide over a fifty year span. Russia’s political theory requires taking over neighboring nations and administering them, which they did in the Warsaw Pact states (and why those states hate Russia sssoooo much). The United States’ political system doesn’t require this– which is why NATO counties still march to a different drummer than the USA.

  29. Ian Welsh

    We spend a lot of time talking about the crimes of communism, and very little tallying up the deaths of capitalism.

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